Kindle, Monsters and Marketing Advice

Posted on May 12, 2013


         As a career magazine and newspaper journalist who in addition to hundreds of articles long and short has published some sixty or seventy literary and little magazine shortstories, a novel that though praised never went into a second printing and hundreds of poems I assumed that I was more than casually familiar with my profession.  

         It turns out I’m an outsider.

         Well, not quite. I still publish political essays and poetry but the demise of the majority of $1-a-word paying magazines that anchored my income left me seeking other outlets.

Like the novel I’d been working on.

Agents I showed it to complimented it but defined it as “neither commercial nor literary,” consequently, not something with which they could make a killing. Without an agent doors to major publishers were closed so I accepted the publication offer of a so-called “indie”—independent publisher—and plunged into the Kindle, smashwords, blog tour world of self-promotion.

         A world I hardly knew existed.

         Or that knew I existed.

         Various websites offered publicity tips, review sources, author interviews. Most offered forms to fill out (book title, ISBN, FaceBook page, synopsis, etc) and a category labeled “genre.” The first site I attempted to utilize listed sixteen or seventeen “genres,” many of which I’d never heard of. “Literary fiction” was not on the list. Neither was “commercial fiction.” Or “contemporary fiction.” YA, Romance, Detective, Fantasy… I left the category blank and completed the rest of the questionnaire but immediately was admonished You must pick a genre!

         One must fit a genre or one isn’t a writer?

         Nevertheless I continued probing and learned that the among the most successful self-published books were those bearing variations of the title How to make money self-publishing. (Years before as a journalist I’d discovered that many advising how to make money on the stock market made their money by advising, not investing.)

The web, it turns out, is replete with marketing advice. Linkedin and FaceBook sponsor writers groups dedicated solely to marketing.

         Marketing genre books that is.

         I felt like I’d plopped into a sea of starving fish thrashing this way and that for survival. Free on Kindle! Read my blog! Like me on FaceBook! Daily tweets! A phantasmagoria of clashing book covers: Superheroes, pulsing breasts, fire-tongued monsters, tsunami seas. Plus blogs and websites—including blogs and websites offering blog and website advice.

         Eight ways to get reviews…manipulating Pinterest…increase your SEO…Hootsuite…FaceBook marketing for dummies…

         When a political magazine in its thirtieth-or-so year of publication sent me copies of the issue that contained an essay of mine I contentedly turned back to the world I knew and read, on pages that crinkled my fingertips, about counter reforms in Bolivia, the plummeting euro, mine accidents in South Africa.

         And real life monsters like Rios Montt, Putin, Bashar Assad…


Posted in: Book Marketing